MLB Opening Day

Five Takeaways from MLB Opening Day

Major League Baseball’s 2024 Opening Day featured a little bit of everything from blowout, record-setting wins to nail-biting, extra-inning contests. The present and future of the sport were on full display as the league kicked off what promises to be another entertaining, dramatic, 162-game season. 

Five Takeaways from MLB Opening Day


1. Angels Look Set to Waste Another Year of Mike Trout’s Immense Talent

The Los Angeles Angels should have done more this offseason to position themselves for the Shohei Ohtani-less future. Knowing that Ohtani’s free agency loomed following the 2023 season, the club went all-in at the trade deadline attempting to strengthen their roster for a last-chance playoff push. They parted with multiple young prospects in separate trades for Colorado Rockies hitters C.J. Cron, and Randal Grichuk and Chicago White Sox pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. At that point, the team was on a winning stretch and only three games out of a Wild Card spot. However, they ultimately crumbled out of contention, waived those two pitchers in a money-saving maneuver, and finished with a losing record once again.

This offseason, the Angels hardly made an effort to re-sign Ohtani. They offered him way less than all the other teams interested in his services and watched him move to their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers. Instead of splurging on a starting pitcher like Blake Snell to replace Ohtani, the club added many new faces to their bullpen, along with outfielder Aaron Hicks. New manager Ron Washington does not have many known players to work with except for franchise face Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has failed to live up to the massive free-agent contract the team gave him a couple of years ago.

Their mediocrity proved clear from the jump as the Baltimore Orioles blew them out 11-3 on Opening Day. The game started well as Trout hit the first home run of the day, but then the Orioles’ offense jumped all over Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, opening up a big lead and seizing control of the game. The Halos would only get one other hit the rest of the game, showcasing the massive hole left by Ohtani. While it is just one game, it already looks like another season in which the Dodgers will overshadow the Angels.

2. It Could Be a Long Year on the South Side of Chicago

After losing 101 games in 2023, the Chicago White Sox appear set for another long, potentially miserable campaign based on their Opening Day 1-0 loss against the Detroit Tigers. Just before the season started, new general manager Chris Getz, a former player, traded the team’s best pitcher Dylan Cease to the San Diego Padres, in exchange for four players, three of whom are promising minor league prospects with a chance to help this team soon.

Against the Tigers, starting pitcher Garrett Crochet pitched well, only giving up one run in six innings in an eye-opening performance. However, Chicago’s lineup featuring the likes of Luīs Robert Jr., Eloy Jiménez, and Andrew Vaughn could not score against Tigers’ ace pitcher Tarik Skubal, a potential break-out candidate, who threw six shutout innings before his team’s bullpen finished the shutout. The White Sox are going to need Vaughn to ascend to another level, Robert and Jimenez to stay healthy, and timely offensive contributions from shortstop Paul DeJong and catcher Martín Maldonado if manager Pedro Grifol wants to experience more success in his second season. Otherwise, the team will experience more games like this, and its chance at division contention will decrease.

3. Cincinnati Reds Fans Could Be In For a Fun Summer Featuring a Lot of Martini Bombs

In 2024, the Cincinnati Reds are looking to follow the Orioles’ lead, going from a surprise contender one season to a legit contender the next. The Reds got off to a flying start, defeating the Washington Nationals 8-2 in each team’s initial game of the season. Despite most of the Reds hype focusing around the club’s exciting, youthful core led by the electric Hunter Greene and Elly De La Cruz, journeyman outfielder Nick Martini and offseason free-agent signing Frankie Montas stole the show on Opening Day.

Martini became the first Reds player to bash two home runs in the season’s first game since Adam Dunn in 2007, a performance that will keep the longtime minor leaguer in the team’s lineup. He supplied the offensive power and Montas delivered on the mound with six shutout innings, a positive first step for a player trying to recover from an injury-plagued year-and-a-half stint with the New York Yankees following success on the Oakland Athletics. Although it is too soon to judge after one game, their inaugural performance bodes well for a Cincinnati squad facing heightened expectations this season.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks Mean Business

Following a surprising runner-up finish, the Arizona Diamondbacks improved their roster by leaps and bounds, extending the team’s payroll to the highest it has ever been. The franchise upgraded at third base by trading for Eugenio Suárez, re-signed left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr, and then added free-agent hitters Joc Pederson and Randal Grichuk and pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery. All these moves are necessary because the Dodgers, Padres, and San Francisco Giants also dramatically reshaped their rosters over the past few months, looking to usurp Arizona as king of the National League. The Diamondbacks do not want that to happen as they made a significant opening statement.

The club annihilated the visiting Rockies 16-1, setting numerous club records in a 14-run third inning, the most runs ever scored in an inning in MLB Opening Day history. Most impressively, the Snakes scored all these runs without a single hit from their best player and defending NL Rookie of the Year, Corbin Carroll. On the other hand, the outcome of this opening day game could reflect the struggling Rockies, which did little to bolster their team in the offseason and are likely to be overmatched by most of their opponents this year.

5. New and Old Players Make Their Marks

As always, Opening Day saw the debut of established players with new teams and many top prospects making their Major League debuts. Outfielder Juan Soto preserved the Yankees’ one-run lead at the Houston Astros by throwing out the game-tying run at home plate in the ninth inning. New Orioles ace pitcher Corbin Burnes carved up the Angels, looking every bit the ace the Orioles traded for. Also, several rookies made immediate impacts. Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers’ highly rated outfielders, Wyatt Langford and Jackson Chourio respectively, both top-five prospects in the league, collected their first hits and played major roles in helping their teams secure opening-game victories.

Given the marathon that is the baseball season, a team’s first game provides minimal insight into their contention chances this season. Yet, Opening Day often reveals each team’s strengths and weaknesses and a sense of whether they are pointed in the right direction.


Main Image: Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

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